Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 24, 2012

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Remember when small portable televisions were among the most phenomenal pieces of technology we had ever seen? Everybody salivated with jealousy as the man sitting in the airport with the small 3’’ by 3’’ screen watched the news while waiting for his plane to arrive. Now when we walk through the same airport, there are children with enormous tablets, playing full 3D games with other children halfway across the world, and controlling their device with the flick of a finger.


While it’s sometimes difficult to notice in our busy on-the-go lifestyles, technology has truly taken off and propelled us into a real-life science fiction movie.


The same can be said for our automobiles—our modern day chariots—as new perks, features, hook-ups, and touch screens come standard. And if they don’t, auto loan borrowers walk past them in an almost arrogant manner, thinking to themselves, “That car is so 2010.”


“The trend with technology in general and features in cars is that they start out as luxury items when they are first release,” said Dave Merline, managing editor at, to TheStreet. “Then, as they catch on, they get put in more cars and they become cheaper, and as they become cheaper they get put in more cars.”


And that’s exactly what we’ve been seeing. Those who have held onto a vehicle for some time are in for a huge surprise when they trade it in, obtain a car loan, and walk onto a dealership’s lot. Installed iPod hookups come standard in new vehicles now. Television screens mounted on the ceilings or behind the front driver and passenger seats are a must for families with children. Projected heads-up displays (like what one would expect in a military jet!), built-in navigation, and heated seats are all becoming more and more common.


Let’s dive into each one of these new and completely awesome features so many cars come standard with today.


iPod Ready Stereos


“The 2001 Mazda Protégé was the first car to offer an MP3-capable audio system,” according to web2carz in an article by TheStreet.


But those older, first-gen MP3 friendly stereos were nothing compared to today’s all-inclusive integrated stereo systems.


Now auto loan borrowers can expect iPod-specific docks and plugs that synchronize the content of an individual iPod to cars’ stereo systems. These systems often transcribe the iPod’s contents onto a digital display that is controlled from buttons nestled conveniently under the driver’s thumbs on the steering wheel.


“The future will be that you have all of that controlled by voice commands,” said Merline. “You would name the artist or song you wanted to hear.”


That future may not be too far away either, as Apple’s latest digital creation called Siri grants iPhone users voice-activated help, resembling some science-fiction robot on par with Stanley Kubrick’s HAL-9000—except, so far, a bit more friendly.


Mounted Television Screens


For the parents out there looking to purchase a new kid-friendly car, nothing can be quite as appealing as mounted television screens. When financing an auto loan for a minivan or SUV, the back-of-the-chair LCD displays or ceiling-drop-down monitors can be the difference between peaceful road trips and throbbing migraines.


As technology improves, making these devices more and more portable, infra-red headphones allow passengers to enjoy movies without affecting the other’s in the vehicle. And believe it or not, Blu-Ray technology is even entering the world of automobiles.


However, depending on the quality of displays and the amount of comfort a borrower wants out of their in-car television setup, one should expect to pay back a car loan of one to thousand more than they would without this kid-friendly perk.


Projected Heads-Up Displays


Imagine what it would be like to shoot missiles from your car. Okay, so we can’t quite do that, but the heads-up display found in some vehicles is beginning to look like we can.


In an attempt to make driving safer, car companies are installing heads up displays that use small, ultraviolet lasers to project data across the windshield for the driver. Information on speed, RPMs, miles-per-gallon, and remaining gas is all visible without ever having to take one’s eyes off the road. Those who have financed a BMW 7-Series with a car loan may already be familiar with this advancement.


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Advancement to this technology that’s not quite here yet (but that sounds incredibly cool) is a GPS navigation system that can help drivers out in low-visibility conditions—such as in heavy fog. GM is looking to use the heads-up display to show auto loan borrowers where turns or obstructions are.


“Let’s say you’re driving in fog, we could use the vehicles infrared cameras to identify where the edge of the road is and the lasers could ‘paint’ the edge of the road onto the windshield so the driver knows where the edge of the road is,” said Thomas Seder, a lab manager at GM’s R &D center in Warren, Michigan, to Wired Magazine.


The photo above, courtesy of GM, shows what we can expect out of this display in the future. Such technology may force even the most old-school of us to take out a larger car loan.


Built-in Navigation


The days when auto loan borrowers would purchase a car then cruise over to the nearest electronic store to purchase an attachable GPS system are done. More and more new vehicles are coming with built in LCD screens, usually incorporated into the stereo system, that serve as GPS systems with traffic-tracking capabilities and birds-eye view maps.


While this is a wonderful feature for those holding car loans, it’s a mortal wound for the short-lived, but admirable Tom-Tom.


Heated Seats


Heated seats are the automobile’s equivalent to the bedroom’s sleep-number bed. This readily-available technology that’s springing up in all types of cars allows passengers to heat their individual seats up to match their own comfortably level. It’s particularly great for those couples that frequently enjoy different temperatures. There’s no need to compromise when both can get their way.


Some may write off this feature as a gimmick, but the luxury of sitting down in a warmed seat on a cold, rainy day is pretty indescribable—and this is no longer exclusive to lavish, comfort-cars, but instead is being installed on affordable, every-day vehicles that most can finance with a traditional auto loan.